John Singleton, Oscar-nominated director of Boyz n the Hood, Poetic Justice, and Higher Learning, has passed away at the age of 51.
“John passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends. We want to thank the amazing doctors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital for their expert care and kindness and we again want thank all of John’s fans, friends and colleagues for all of the love and support they showed him during this difficult time,” Singleton’s family said in a statement.
The filmmaker had been in a coma for the last week after suffering what was later described as a “major stroke.” Earlier Monday, Singleton’s family decided to take him off life support. “This was an agonizing decision, one that our family made, over a number of days, with the careful counsel of John’s doctors,” the family announced in a previous statement.
Born in Los Angeles on January 6th, 1968, Singleton was raised by Sheila Ward-Johnson, a pharmaceutical sales executive, and Danny Singleton, a real estate agent and financial planner. After graduating from Blair High School, he enrolled at Pasadena City College, which led to his film studies at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
In 1991, a year after receiving his degree at USC, Singleton delivered his debut, Boyz n the Hood. Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Angela Bassett, Ice Cube, and Laurence Fishburne, the inner city drama earned several Academy Award nominations, including Best Original Screenplay and Best Director, the latter making a then-24-year-old Singleton the youngest nominee and the first black filmmaker to be nominated for the award.
The following year, Singleton would direct the FX-driven music video for Michael Jackson’s global smash, “Remember the Time”, which featured blockbuster star Eddie Murphy and Lakers legend Magic Johnson. He would keep things in the Jackson family for 1993’s Poetic Justice, which saw the king of Pop’s sister Janet Jackson star alongside Tupac Shakur and receive an Oscar nomination for her hit single “Again”.
Shortly after, Singleton reunited with Fishburne and Ice Cube for his third feature, 1995’s Higher Learning, which earned Fishburne an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” and Ice Cube a nomination. Two years later, Singleton tried his hand at an historical drama with 1997’s Rosewood, which starred Ving Rhames and was based on true-life story of the 1923 Rosewood massacre in Florida.
The aughts saw Singleton embrace the Hollywood blockbuster, while also retaining his roots. In 2000, he teamed up with Samuel L. Jackson to deliver a sequel/reboot of Richard Roundtree’s iconic Shaft franchise, while returning to his roots a year later with the coming-of-age tale Baby Boy. The film starred Tyrese Gibson, who he would pair with the now-late Paul Walker in the first of many sequels, 2 Fast 2 Furious.
Although he struggled with his following two films — 2005’s Four Brothers and 2011’s Abduction — Singleton eventually found another life on television. After directing episodes for Fox’s Empire and FX’s American Crime Story, he created two of his own shows: BET’s Rebel and FX’s Snowfall. The former was canceled after one season, while the latter was renewed for a third season that premieres later this year.
Singleton is survived by his five children.